Jamal Crawford says Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will have to learn how to play with each other

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Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant have yet to play a game with one another after signing with the Nets over the summer, but one former Knick thinks they’ll figure it out on the court.

Jamal Crawford played four-plus seasons at Madison Square Garden from 2004 to 2008. In the 2007-08 season, the super-scorer and three-time Sixth Man of the Year averaged a career-best 20.6 points per game for the Knicks.

In a recent podcast appearance, Crawford, a 19-year NBA veteran who last played for the Phoenix Suns in 2019, said Irving and Durant will have to learn to play with one another, but Crawford has faith things will work in the Nets’ favor.

“Absolutely. Without a doubt. They’ll have moments where they have to figure it out and work their way through,” he said on Scoop B Radio with Brandon Robinson. “Those moments may come more in the closer games because they’re both used to having the ball and making plays and making decisions and certain ways they may go about things in the closer games. So maybe more presence there, but I’m sure it will happen during the course of the season.

“Knowing both of them, and being tight with both of them I think their friendship will supersede everything because they know when they’re getting on each other, they know it’s coming from a good place. They’re both champions. They both know what it takes, and they both knew that this is going to happen when they both thought about teaming up. Once they get through that and get past that, man! They can do anything.”

There has already been one adjustment period at Barclays Center. Durant was not expected to play a game this season after rupturing his Achilles in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, but Irving became the starting point guard after the Nets traded D’Angelo Russell to the Warriors.

Irving only played in 20 games this season due to lingering issues with his right shoulder, but he was one of the league’s most electrifying players when he was active, averaging more than 27 points, six assists and five rebounds while recording two 50-point games in Brooklyn.

Those numbers, though, never translated in the win column. The Nets had just an 8-12 record in games Irving played while finishing 22-22 in games he did not. His season with the Nets started with injury: an orbital bone fracture in a summer pickup game one day before Media Day.

The Nets never had a chance to adjust to their star point guard. As a result, they struggled with him on the floor, and did not have enough firepower to hang with playoff-caliber opponents when he was hurt.

Durant’s return, whenever that may be given the coronavirus pandemic that has left the NBA season suspended indefinitely, will help. He is a three-time scoring champion and one of the three-to-five best players in the NBA when healthy.

The Nets project to have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA when their two stars return to the rotation — or they’ll trade that depth for a third star to lift Brooklyn to championship contention.

Crawford, elaborating on his thoughts, pointed to a duo in South Beach that had a rocky start before rattling off back-to-back championships for the Heat.

“You see it happen with (Dwyane Wade) and LeBron (James), to (Russell) Westbrook and James (Harden),” he told Robinson. “You know when you put two great players together, you’re going to have to work through some things. Especially if they didn’t come in the same draft together and all that stuff. I have no doubt that they will get through whatever it is that they have to go through.”


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